Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay rakes in honors

HANALEI — The Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay is definitely one of significance.

The club was honored at the annual Rotary International District 5000 awards ceremony June 16 at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki.

It took home first-place awards for community service, youth service, vocational service, total giving, membership growth and the significant achievement award. It was the runner-up in two other award categories.

“We are so proud of everything that our members accomplished this year, but the award that speaks to the heart of the club is the Community Service Award, because that is why we all joined Rotary — to give back to Kauai,” said John Young, club president.

The club earned its fourth Rotary Significant Achievement Award, a rare honor among Rotary clubs, for its work creating after-school clubs at Kilauea Elementary School. Only 18 of the 34,000 Rotary clubs worldwide have won four or more Significant Achievement Awards, according to a press release from the Hanalei club.

The after-school clubs in Kilauea provide children with enriching activities such as art, music, sports, technology and entrepreneurship. All told, 70 percent of Kilauea school students signed up this year within a week of the program’s launch.

“Everyone matters to our club, from keiki to kapuna,” said Rotary Club President-elect Michael Dexter-Smith. “In the next year, we will add new creative programs, following our tradition of identifying and then working to solve the social needs in the community. When people say it’s too hard, we ask, ‘If not us, then who?’”

The Hanalei Bay Rotary club has 66 members and has been active in high- profile community service projects such as the rebuilding of the Hanalei Bay Pier and the launch of Grow Our Own Teachers, an organization that helps Kauai students become teachers on the island.

The club is also active in schools, providing funds and mentors in the classroom through Adopt a Classroom and Adopt an After School Club, as well as distributing new books to students to encourage reading.

In the last year, Hanalei Rotarians have supported three food pantries, honored local teachers and business people. Beyond Kauai, members contributed $97,000 to the Rotary International Foundation to help eradicate polio and provide clean drinking water to people in need.

“Being honored among so many other outstanding Rotary clubs makes these awards even more meaningful,” said Marion Paul, the club’s public relations chairperson. “But the real winners are the communities we serve. That is why we are all Rotarians.”

Hanalei Bay Rotarians meet weekly at noon at The St. Regis.

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